The Bombay High Court Friday inquired from the Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC) if it had a policy for compensation and jobs for families of victims and those firemen who lost their lives firefighting. If there was no such policy, the court asked the civic body to formulate one.
“Are there any specific guidelines for compensating firemen in case of injury and death? Is there any provision to employ their close relatives in case of death or permanent disability of a fireman? If any such policy or guidelines are there, they should be mentioned in the affidavit to be filed,” said Justices A S Oka and P D Naik.
The court stated that if there were no rules pertaining to fire safety for high rises in the Development Control Regulation Act, the same should be amended. The court has posted the next hearing in June.
The direction was passed, while the court was hearing a public interest litigation filed by advocate Dr Sharmila Ghuge, seeking directions for the authorities concerned to implement provisions of the Maharashtra Fire Prevention and Life Safety Measures Act, 2006, and other allied provisions of law and guidelines issued in the matter.
The court also questioned the BMC counsel if provisions of the National Building Code of India (Fire and Life Safety) had been incorporated within the fire safety rules. The BMC responded that it was a Central code, and the BMC did not have the authority to make those changes. The BMC said changes in the Development Control Regulation Act could be brought about by the state government.
The petitioner, in her PIL, contended that many high rises in the city were constructed without following guidelines laid down for fire safety, and due to this, many lives had been lost in fire accidents.
She requested the court to direct authorities to take action against the owners and occupiers of high-rise buildings who did not follow the mandatory fire safety norms and misused or did not provide refuge areas in the prescribed manner.
In an affidavit filed earlier, the BMC fire department had disclosed that notices had been issued to 4,812 buildings for non-compliance of fire safety laws, while legal action had been taken against 11 other buildings.